Coté Memo #061: On the tedious need to have an opinion

Tech & Work World

Having an opinion, or not

In the types of jobs I’ve found myself in over recent years – analyst, strategist, “content producer” in the form of podcasts and blogs – you have to generate a lot of opinions. The best actually seem to really care about the things they have opinions over and can express, at length, why they think like they do. Think about the ATP crew or any of the other podcasts out there: they really care about Apple! Ben Thompson is another font of opinion, and his content is very interesting for it.

I seem to have powered down my opinion engine of late: I just haven’t cared as much. I find myself taking a “wait and see position” more than not: in the technology space, I’m more interested in learning how people are using technologies and about how the actual technologies work than having a strong opinion about which their metaphysical essence.

I find that “having an opinion” also guides a lot of managing teams. A manager should have an opinion about how the team runs, what their work product looks like, how they’re rated, and ways to improve. That takes a lot of opinion, expressing it, and enforcing it. At an individual level – managing yourself – the same applies.

This leads me think that we need opinions to simply tell us what to do day to day and how we should rate how we’re doing. It feels something of a wrong conclusion: you’re not supposed to be overly subjective in “managing.” And yet, it seems to me that most interesting – not always the most profitable – “work” is driven by a strong opinion, and following it to its logical conclusion.

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

My old cache of D&D books. And there's a whole 'nuther box!

Whenever I dig around in the attic, I came across the two (!) boxes of Dungeons and Dragons books I have up there. It makes me long to DM again. After coming across this “Three Sad Wizards” module and listening to the first episode of Total Party Kill, I wrote up the beginning of an adventure that night sitting up in bed.

Here’s the summary I tapped out at the top:

“The player wakes up in a dungeon with no memories of who they are and must quest through the valley of five rivers [can you tell I’ve been reading Game of Thrones?] to discover their past. The player should either be a warrior or a thief, they can decide which at some point early on.”


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